As expected, the late changes in the tax law to avoid the "fiscal cliff" will cause a slight delay to the start of the 2013 filing season. The IRS had previously estimated filing season would begin on January 22. That date has been pushed back to January 30 for "the vast majority of tax filers." The remaining taxpayers, including those claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property, or general business credits, will be able to start filing in late February or March. (This includes Forms 5695, 4562, and 3800 which required extensive changes.) This applies for both electronic filing and paper filing, so don’t bother sending in your paper form in hopes it will be processed early.
Why the delay? Certain changes enacted under the American Taxpayer Relief Act were made retroactive to January 1, 2012, meaning the changes affect your 2012 taxes. The IRS is now rushing to update Forms and software to properly reflect those changes.
As always, when you are ready to file, don’t get too anxious and use a refund anticipation loan. The IRS always allows free filing, and electronic filing with direct deposit results is the quickest way to receive your refund.